Acts 5:2
With his wife's full knowledge, he kept back some of the proceeds for himself, but brought a portion and laid it at the apostles' feet.
Keeping Back the PriceC. S. Robinson, D. D.Acts 5:2
Making Gain Out of a Pretence of GodlinessC. S. Robinson, D. D.Acts 5:2
The Nature of the SinR. Winterbotham, M. A.Acts 5:2
The Sin of Pretence and its PunishmentG. T. Stokes, D. D.Acts 5:2
The Death of ArianR.A. Redford Acts 5:1-6
A Fatal ForgetfulnessW. Clarkson Acts 5:1-10
A Broken VowJ. B. Converse.Acts 5:1-11
Ananias and SapphiraC. S. Robinson, D. D.Acts 5:1-11
Ananias and SapphiraJ. Parker, D. D.Acts 5:1-11
Ananias and SapphiraMonday Club SermonsActs 5:1-11
Ananias and SapphiraH. Thomson, D. D.Acts 5:1-11
Ananias and SapphiraW. G. Moorehead, D. D.Acts 5:1-11
Ananias and SapphiraD. Thomas, D. D.Acts 5:1-11
Ananias and SapphiraD. J. Burrell, D. D.Acts 5:1-11
Ananias and SapphiraG. C. Osgood.Acts 5:1-11
Ananias and SapphiraActs 5:1-11
Ananias and SapphiraT. De Witt Talmage.Acts 5:1-11
Ananias and Sapphira -- Lessons of the NarrativeJ. Dick, A. M.Acts 5:1-11
Dangers Within the Early ChurchJ. Thompson, A. M.Acts 5:1-11
Deception Exposed and PunishedActs 5:1-11
Fraudulent BenevolenceActs 5:1-11
Hypocrites Appear After RevivalsC. H. Spurgeon.Acts 5:1-11
Hypocrites in the ChurchActs 5:1-11
Privileged with the Gospel, But not Improved by ItActs 5:1-11
The Beacon -- AnaniasW. Arnot, D. D.Acts 5:1-11
The Divine Judgment on DuplicityW. H. Davison.Acts 5:1-11
The First SinDean Vaughan.Acts 5:1-11
The First Tare Among the WheatK. Gerok.Acts 5:1-11
The Hardship of HypocrisyH. W. Beecher.Acts 5:1-11
The Sin and the Doom of Ananias and SapphiraT. Binney.Acts 5:1-11
The Sin of Heart: Untruth and its PunishmentE. Johnson Acts 5:1-11

There are several truths which this sad incident suggests to us. We may view them thus -

I. THAT A NEW ENTERPRISE MAY SURVIVE A VERY DAMAGING BLOW. It was a very serious misfortune to the new Church that two of its members should commit a sin worthy of death, and pay that terrible penalty in the view of all. The apostles must have felt that they and the cause with which they were identified had received a severe blow; but it was far from being a fatal one. It was one from which the cause of Christ soon recovered; nay, it was overruled "for the furtherance of the gospel." Let not any Church or any sacred cause be too much disheartened by a check at the beginning. With truth and God on its side, it will survive and flourish.

II. THAT VERY SERIOUS SIN MAY BE CONNECTED WITH AN ACT WHICH IS OUTWARDLY VIRTUOUS AND GODLY. To those who looked on as Ananias and Sapphira brought the money they did bring and laid it at the feet of the apostles, their action must have seemed pious and generous in a very high degree. But we know it to have been utterly and even fatally defective. It becomes us to search with fearless and faithful glance those of our deeds which men approve as most commendable, lest, while around us is approval and congratulation, there should be entered in the book of account in heaven a sin of great enormity against our name.

III. THAT WE MAY BE COMMITTING A HEINOUS SIN IN AN ACTION WHICH SEEMS VENIAL TO OURSELVES. In all likelihood, Ananias and Sapphira imagined that they were doing an action which, while it was calculated to win respect, was not very, if at all, reprehensible in itself. They probably reconciled it to their own sense of rectitude. Men do so now. In connection with religion and philanthropy they do guilty things which kindle the wrath of the righteous Lord, supposing that they are only departing a few degrees from integrity, or are even worthy of praise. "Who can understand his errors? Cleanse thou me from secret faults."

IV. THAT IT IS A FALSE AND MOST PERILOUS THING TO SUPPOSE THAT THE GOOD CONNECTED WITH ANY COURSE WILL COUNTERBALANCE SOME ONE SERIOUS SIN THEREIN. Ananias and Sapphira may have thought that the piety and charity of their conduct would more than balance the sin of their deception. They were miserably wrong and were fearfully disabused of their mistake. If we willfully break one of God's plain commandments, supposing that the virtues of our action will cancel the wrong, and thus allow ourselves to fall into deception (as here), or into dishonesty, or into excess, or, into arrogance and pride, we shall have a sad and, it may be, a rude and awful awakening from our grievous error.

V. THAT THERE IS A FORGETFULNESS WHICH IS NOTHING LESS THAN FATAL. Ananias and Sapphira made a mistake which was simply ruinous. They overlooked the fact that the Holy Spirit of God was in close connection with his Church, and was acting through his servants. They forgot that when they were trying to deceive inspired men they were acting falsely in the face of the Divine Inspirer, so that when they imagined they were lying unto men they were really lying unto God (ver. 4). For this guilty oversight they paid the last penalty of death. Is not their sin too easily reproducible and too often re-enacted? Too commonly men guiltily overlook the presence and agency of the Divine Spirit.

1. A Church does so when it is resting in human and earthly advantages for its prosperity; when the minister trusts to his eloquence, the people to those arts and influences which are from below and not from above; when both are forgetting that there is an almighty power which is within their reach and at the command of believing prayer.

2. The human soul does so when it disregards the influences which are at work upon and within it; when it treats lightly the pleadings of the pulpit, the warnings of friendship, the prickings of conscience, the convictions and impulses which call it to newness of life. Is not this to sin against the Holy Ghost, and is not the penalty of it spiritual, eternal death? - C.

And kept back part of the price.
They desired to have all the credit the Church would give them for acting as generously as Barnabas did, and yet, while getting credit for unselfish and unstinting liberality, to be able to enjoy in private somewhat of that which they were believed to have surrendered. And their calculations were terribly disappointed. They tried to play the hypocrite's part on most dangerous ground, just when the Divine spirit of purity, sincerity, and truth had been abundantly poured out, and when the spirit of deceit and hypocrisy was therefore at once recognised. It was with the apostles and their spiritual natures then as it is with ourselves and our physical natures still. When we are living in a crowded city we notice not strange scents and ill odours and foul gases; our senses are dulled, and our perceptive powers are rendered obtuse because the whole atmosphere is a tainted one. But when we dwell in the pure air of the country, and the glorious breezes from mountain and moor blow round us fresh and free, then we detect at once, and at a long distance, the slightest ill odour or the least trace of offensive gas. The outpoured presence of the Spirit, and the abounding love which was produced thereby, quickened the perception of St. Peter. He recognised the hypocrisy, characterised the sin of Ananias as a lie against the Holy Ghost; and then the Spirit and Giver of life, seconding and supporting the words of St. Peter, withdrew His support from the human frame of the sinner, and Ananias ceased to live, just as Sapphira, his partner in deceit, ceased to live a few hours later. It may well have been that this incident was inserted in this typical Church history to correct a false idea which would otherwise have grown up. The apostles and their followers were now realising their freedom in the spirit; and some were inclined to run into licentiousness as the result of that freedom. They were realising, too, their relationship to God as one of pure filial love, and they were in great danger of forgetting that God was a God of justice and judgment as well, till this stern dispensation recalled them to a sense of the fact that eternal love is also eternal purity and eternal truth, and will by no means clear the guilty.

(G. T. Stokes, D. D.)

That it was simply the sin of lying, is impossible to believe. He who calmly told them of their instant fate had himself lied most foully, and been forgiven. It is more plausible to maintain that their sin was something far worse than mere falsehood — that it was hypocrisy of the lowest type — that they could not endure to lack the praise of the noblest Christian conduct, or to make the necessary sacrifices — that they schemed to be considered the best, whilst they were, and knew that they were, very far below the best. All this is true and terrible, but does not satisfy us as an explanation of their awful end. I venture to suggest that Ananias and Sapphira suffered the extreme penalty, not as sinners, but as criminals; not in revenge for a flagrant insult offered to the Almighty, but as the due reward for a frightful wrong inflicted upon their fellowmen; not to accentuate the hideousness of a sin (for which purpose it had been unneeded and ineffective), but to mark the enormity of a crime which blasted the fairest prospect ever opened before the sons of men. It seems to me that they suffered death just as the dynamitards ought to suffer death, because in the recklessness of political hatred they destroy the lives of innocent people. Their crime was beyond all possible reach of human justice, therefore God Himself intervened to mark for once and all how great a crime, how vast a wrong they had committed in the sight of Heaven. Of what, then, were they guilty? What did they do? Before the deceit of Ananias and Sapphira communism was the rule within the Christian fold. It was practised freely as a natural, nay, a necessary part of a whole-hearted following after Christ. After the deceit of Ananias and Sapphira communism ceased to be the rule — apparently it ceased to exist. In the very next chapter we find, not communism, but "charity," with all its paltry greeds and grudges. Why was this? What became of the communism? I say that Ananias and his wife killed it. Such a state of things depends essentially upon mutual confidence, and they killed that confidence. The fatal blow had been given: and what had been an actual working system, perfect in its principle, and boundless in its promise, faded at once into a beautiful dream Co-operation in the labours of life does very well for beavers, for they do not deceive one another, nor does one desire to grow fat at his neighbour's expense, neither does another wish to take credit for having done what he has not really done. Why cannot Christian men he as true to one another, and to the society of which they form a part, as beavers? Ask Ananias and Sapphira. Before they began, there were no suspicions, no grudgings, no wealth, and no poverty, "neither was there any among them that lacked." When they had ended there were rich and poor, there was "a murmuring" of one class against another, there was the foretaste of those monstrous evils which we deplore to-day. They only "told a lie," but that lie gave a mortal blow to the mutual confidence on which any system of communism has to rest. If it is only to-day that we are beginning to face the social problems of advanced civilisation in their naked ugliness, if it is only to-day that we are in a position to estimate the results of unlimited competition, and the reign of universal greed; if it is only to-day that we are becoming thoroughly frightened at the hideous contrast between the professed principles and the existing facts of Christian society; it is for this very reason only to-day that we are able to appreciate the true moral of that tremendous and unexampled judgment. The socialism of the first believers was the fairest work of the Holy Ghost — it was the truest following after Christ — it was the loftiest faith and the broadest charity translated into that simple language of everyday life, which must be read and loved of all men. The "Magnificat" is the inspired hymn of gospel communism, it is the Marseillaise of the Christian socialist. Striking at once to the heart of the matter, rising at once to the principle of the new order, forestalling (like all inspired strains) the end from the beginning, it pronounces without mitigation, it exults without qualification, that "He hath put down the mighty," etc.

(R. Winterbotham, M. A.)

When Nineveh was burned under Sardanapalus, great quantities of treasure were known to bare fallen into the fiery ruins. Belesis, governor of Babylon, had been one of the conspirators against the dead king, and was aware of all the circumstances of the sack of the city. He told the other generals that in the midst of the fight he had at one time despaired of success, and then he had solemnly sworn to the immortal gods that, if victory were vouchsafed him, he would convey bodily all the ashes of the conflagration to Babylon, and deposit them in a vast temple which he would erect to receive them in honour of the propitious deities: he added that his tender conscience would not permit him to delay the fulfilment of his vow. No one could object to so pious a proposal; so Belesis set the whole army at work to gather up the remains of the fire. When the valuable mass reached Babylon he smelted the heaps in great furnaces, and enriched himself to a fabulous amount with the gold and silver that came forth. This he had understood all along; but he was neither the first nor the last man who has put forward his conscience to make gain out of godliness with a villainous deceit.

(C. S. Robinson, D. D.)

We read in French history that Louis XI. once proffered the entire department of Bologne to the "Blessed Virgin Mary." He drew up a deed, signed, sealed; he delivered it to the proper ecclesiastics of the Church. But with a peculiar perversity he kept all the revenues and taxes, appointing every year new collectors who might secure the income rigidly for himself without any peril of being tampered with by the priests.

(C. S. Robinson, D. D.)

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